WIZ’s 2011 Spring Poetry Runoff Contest and Celebration tapers off

RodneyLoughJr. Spring Runoff

We’ve had a chilly April in southeast Utah, but this year, my neighbor’s barn swallows and the local colonies of cliff swallows returned to their traditional nesting sites two or three weeks earlier than they did during the past two springs.   A few hundred feet down the road at a cattle pond that drains an alfalfa field, a mallard has hatched an impressive brood of ducklings. Every hour, dozens of starlings crisscross my yard and the surrounding pastures as they zip between nests and their favored hunting grounds in a neighbor’s orchard and field.   They’re wholly bound up in supplying recently hatched nestlings with meals from the wriggling stream of caterpillars that are plentiful this time of year.   The paths the birds beat through the air are nearly Point-A-to-Point-B straight, but starlings are not above stopping to steal our dog’s food.   She has a years’ long feud going with the starlings over their thieving ways.   The black-chinned hummingbirds began arriving around April 21st, as usual.   The beginning of our seasonal servitude to their demands for ambrosia marks spring’s arrival in earnest.

Officially, spring has aged over a month since the vernal equinox.   The light is certainly settling in, lengthening day at both its ends.

Meanwhile, here at WIZ, our Spring Poetry Runoff  crested and has run down.   The last poems have posted, and deliberations to choose which of the approximately 26 eligible entries might win the Spring Poetry Runoff’s Most Popular Poem Award and the Admin Award are about to begin.   Voting  for the Most Popular Poem will be conducted by public poll beginning Monday, May 9,  and run through Friday, May 13th.   Poets, please come back and vote, and invite your friends and family members to come vote, too.   Winners of both awards will be announced on or around Monday, May 16th.

I can hardly believe what a vibrant show of craftsmanship and poetic sensibilities flooded into WIZ this time around, and that’s with last year’s offerings being a cornucopia of unanticipated delights.   Thank you so much, writers, for participating with such high spirit and fine skill.   Poets and readers who have already put so much time into the Runoff €”prepare yourselves to vote, starting next Monday.   And remember: Each voter will be able to vote for his or her three favorite poems!

Again, good work, participants, and thank you, readers, for sticking with us and reading poems for the last 6 ½ weeks!  It’s been a wonderful spring celebration.   Well done, everyone.


Toasting my funerals away, Spring 2006 by Gabriel Aresti Jr.

We are celebrating that spring came over and we did not even make a move
Move, he says to me, we need to keep moving
We’re moving, the ground is moving behind our feet
You know what I’m gonna do when I am older?
Nuclear weapons
I’m gonna do nuclear weapons
I’m gonna do nuclear weapons with geraniums
See those geraniums how they’re starting to blossom
This garden of concrete
I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna make nuclear weapons to celebrate
That spring is here.
Keep on moving.
We walk
We totter
We laugh
We stop in front of a fruit store.
We’ll serve dessert in the living room, ladies and gentleman
You feel like trying it?
My living room is a desert
Blossoming desert of greening meadows apple trees
Oaks poplars birchs beeches holms pines are all invited to dine
You see them there up in the mountains
You see them?
Up there
Can you see them?
They glow like uranium
Geraniums and nuclear weapons.
Melon for dessert. This desert of concrete and pavement.
Daisies, dandelions, darnel, daddy was always telling us
The names
Always the names of things
You remember when we were kids?
You remember that?
Back then
When spring was dry and flat.
Keep moving, he says, and I lower my head to follow
The tracks in the sand of asphalt.
We better keep moving, we’re late.
We’re celebrating.
I know.
Spring came back.
And everything’s gonna be okey.
We’re gonna make nuclear weapons.
You bet.
With geraniums.
See them, blossoming.
They blossom.
They do.
I miss him.
Me too.


Gabriel Aresti Jr. is the pen name of Ángel Chaparro Sainz.   Ángel was born in Barakaldo, Basque Country, northeastern Spain around 1976. Currently, he is a professor of English at the University of the Basque Country where he has been teaching literature, poetry and history as well. Some of his short stories have been published in Deia newspaper and some other anthologies after being winners of contest such as Villa de Gordexola, Ciudad de Eibar or Ortzadar–all of them in the Basque Country.

Gabriel’s poem “Nospringland” won WIZ’s 2010 Spring Poetry Runoff Admin Award.   To see more of Gabriel’s poetry published previously on WIZ, go here, here, here, here, and here.

*non-contest submission*

Sprung Rhythm (A Pagan Hymn) by Jonathon Penny

I could never make something so perfect, so precise
As midway between summer’s cauldron fire and winter’s ice
A revving of the engines, an adjustment of the eyes
From bleak to bright and coloured light. In short, it’s rather nice.

This season is a halfway house, an opening of blinds,
A rooster season, and a rood awakening of mind
To worlds in worlds in worlds of many valuable kinds:
Heuristical; chockfull of long lost treasures, novel finds.

Spring is a billion billion small explosions of new life:
If winter’s an old maid, then Spring’s a baby-bellied wife;
A wild and rabbit romp; a Bacchic toast to fecund strife;
A bee-loud, humdrummed glade and swelling hill with blossoms rife;

A gentle, warm upturning of the cockles and the soil
That heralds love, and plain, soul-saving toil.


To read Jonathon’s bio and more of his poetry published on WIZ, go here, here, here, here, here, and here.

*contest entry*

March Morning, New York City by David Passey

At last the world leans the cobbled street
between Church and City Hall
in line with the sun.

The host of sparrows in the barren aralia vines
catches fire again, flickering and dancing so quick,
like a scaffolding of glad candles.

The forsythia hedge at the Mansion gate–
yesterday a row of tattered sticks,
today a bustling brass parade.

And we, the grey coated regular strangers
befriended by this old street,
drink the new light with our eyes and faces,

partaking maybe in the very beginning of time
when the sun first made the world
a thing that could be filled with joy.


David Passey works as a lawyer in New York City.   He won the BYU Studies 2009 Annual Poetry Contest.

*contest entry*